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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Peace talks with Reds up next

Published in manilatimes

NOW that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are finishing the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), some “doves” in the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd are seriously pushing for the resumption of peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
A well-placed government source confided to The Manila Times on Wednesday that “informal” talks are ongoing between government agents and NDF representatives to explore the possibility of resuming the stalled peace negotiations between the two panels.
“There are hawks and doves in the administration. Some want to continue the peace talks with the Left while others don’t. However, if we can do that with the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front], why not with the Left?” the source said.
He named one prominent politician, a former activist, who is now trying to broker peace with the communist group. The source, however, requested that the politician, a former mayor from Luzon, not be named so as not to jeopardize the outcome of the discussions.
“In fact, NDF panel member Fidel Agcaoili attended his [politician] birthday party recently,” he added, stressing that the “peace broker” is capable of doing the job.
The source noted that the recent turnover to Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd of four policemen previously held captive by the NPA was a “confidence-building gesture” on the part of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles said they are aware of “several” ongoing efforts to have the negotiations with the Left resumed. But she clarified that these talks are still “not official.”
“We know of several tracks of exploratory discussions now ongoing but nothing official. Once anything becomes official, we will certainly inform the public,” she told The Manila Times in a text message.
Like The Times’ source, Deles said they are cautious in dealing with the matter because too much public attention may erode exploratory negotiations.
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